Monthly Archives: April 2015

Taking the Bible “Literally”

Plumb LineHave you ever had a conversation with someone who is skeptical about the Bible, and one of the first questions they may ask you is, “Do you take the Bible literally?

Many Christians, upon hearing the question, instinctively go on the defensive and say, “Yes, I do take the Bible literally.” After all, if the Bible is under attack, a believer will want to stand up and say that they take God at His Word. But then you can almost envision the annoyed look on the skeptic’s face when they respond with something like, “Well then, do you hate your family? After all, did not Jesus say that unless you hate your father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, then you can not be a follower of Jesus?” This classic objection from Luke 14:26 often puts the believer back on the defensive again, trying to come up with some way to get around the idea of taking the Bible “literally” without compromising one’s faith.

I can almost see the skeptic stiffen up and say, “Mmmm… I see.. so you don’t really take the Bible literally. So why should I?

When I am asked that first question from a skeptic, I never give a flat response. Instead, I in turn ask a different question, “Well, what do you ‘literally’ mean by ‘literally‘?”
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The Armenian ‘Tragedy,’ and A Plea for the Study of History

A conflict of versions of history: Armenians claim that 1.5 million of them were killed in 1915-16 in the former Turkish Ottoman Empire. Turkey has a lower figure of 500,000. (photo credit: AFP/Getty, from the The Independent)

A conflict of versions of history: Armenians claim that 1.5 million of them were killed in 1915-16 in the former Turkish Ottoman Empire. Turkey has a lower figure of 500,000. (photo credit: AFP/Getty, from The Independent)

April 24, 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian “tragedy” where up to 1.5 millions Armenians in Turkey, most of them Christian, were killed in the shadow of the First World War. I say tragedy because for many in Turkey today, the thought of calling it the Armenian genocide is considered offensive. From that perspective, what happened to those Armenians was non-systematic, a part of the chaos of war. The term genocide is a powerful, loaded word, stirring up controversy in the minds of many.

We live in an age where history is often pooh-poohed as being nothing more than a boring recitation of dates and facts that means nothing to most people. Folks are a lot more excited to play with their iPhones and their other latest technological gadgets than they are to think about Turkish and Armenian versions of something that happened one hundred years ago.

But such a dismissal of the study of history is completely wrong headed. History is mostly about the stories of people. These are stories about children, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. These are stories that shape the way we view the world around us. History tells us about who we are.

History is even more important for the Christian, since the Bible is essentially the telling of God’s Story. The Bible gives us the authoritative account of God’s redemptive history of humankind. That is why any church worth its salt will retell the story of the Bible week after week after week, so that our minds and hearts might be saturated by the work of God in history.

Make an investment in the study of history. You will learn things about yourself and God that you might never have learned before.

Here is Philip Jenkins, professor of history at Baylor University, telling us about the story that unfolded among the the Turkish and Armenian people, including their Christian communities, one hundred years ago.

Does Romans 8:26 Refer to a Private Prayer Language?

The "gift of tongues" as "groanings too deep for words?"

The “gift of tongues” as “groanings too deep for words?”

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26 ESV).

I remember the first time I ever heard people “speaking in tongues.” A friend of my father’s had invited my dad and I to attend a Full Gospel Businessmen‘s fellowship meeting. I was only about 13 years old and we had a very nice dinner with men dressed in suits and ties… and chocolate ice-cream for desert. Yum-yum.

But then the meeting took an odd turn when guitar-led singing soon began, and I started to hear some of the men around me saying some rather funny things. As they were singing, I could not understand what words they were using. It clearly was not English! Was it gibberish? I could not help but to look around the room, eyes wild open, trying to figure out what in the world was going on!  It was like something out of 1 Corinthians 14!

My dad and I had a rather quiet ride in the car going home that night. Now, you have to know my dad. He is not one for displaying emotion, being rather stoic in personality but always with something articulate to say. But the whole evening left my dad uncharacteristically speechless…. and it left me with a lot of questions.
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Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Logic on Fire

Martyn-Lloyd Jones (1899-1981) was the most influential British preacher of the 20th century, rivaled perhaps by only John R. W. Stott. As a young man from Wales, Jones had trained to be a medical doctor, but wrestled with a calling to preach. View an interview with him here on Veracity.

Upon taking the pulpit at Westminster Chapel in London, Jones became known as a scholarly yet fiery, verse-by-verse expositor of the Bible. In his series on the Book of Romans alone, he delivered at least 366 sermons on the 16 chapters of this great letter by the Apostle Paul. That’s a good six years plus of preaching week by week just on one book of the Bible!

He was not afraid to ruffle some feathers. He was thoroughly Reformed in his theology, an unapologetic critic of Arminianism and champion of the sovereignty of God, and he showed great restraint in voicing his frustration with dispensationalism. Yet he was a man of controversy of his own making, too, criticizing other evangelical leaders who were not severe enough in distancing themselves from more liberal wings of the church, while ironically embracing a tentative yet curious acceptance of a more charismatic form of Christian faith.

Nevertheless, Martyn Lloyd-Jones was passionate about helping believers understand God’s Word and live it out at the most profound level. In an age where many churches shy away from verse-by-verse teaching in favor of more thematic approaches to pulpit teaching, evangelicalism today would do well to learn from the example of the “Doctor,” even if one does not fully find themselves in agreement with all of Martyn Lloyd-Jones teachings, many of them having been preserved in audio form by the MLJ Trust.

A new film is out now documenting this man’s life: Logic on Fire, available here.

An apologist walks into a bar…

Reasonable Faith, Dallas Bar


Wish I’d been there for this event.

Craig at Bar

HT: Reasonable Faith

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